It’s one of the first major indoor concerts since Covid struck. Singer-Songwriter Sophie B. Hawkins is playing a limited capacity show at the Greenwich Odeum on Friday, May 21st.
Hawkins made a splash in the music world almost 30 years ago, behind her hit “Damn, I Wish I Was Your Lover,” a spirited pop masterpiece that led to a Grammy nomination for “Best New Artist.” She’s been recording, performing, and creating ever since.
We spoke to her last week as she was preparing to get back out on tour. “I’m excited about it, I’m happy to get the word out there about the show,” she announced.
“I’ve done two public performances already. I did Westport (CT) and I did Ridgefield (CT) on February 21st. So I feel like I’m into it already now,” Hawkins added.
Hawkins has fared pretty well lately. “The pandemic exposed the weak spots in my career. I worked on them and I’m really happy with the result,” she explained.
“I did four online concerts from my living room; I did a lot of covers that I posted to YouTube and I did art projects with my kids and posted them (under the heading) ‘Art as a Spiritual Practice.’ I said, ‘I’m going to do this painting with you and I’m not going to control it. We’re gonna’ see where it goes.’ It’s been an amazing period of growth for me as an artist.”
She’s been busy with her music career as well.
“I’ve been writing songs of course. I’ve been working on what I don’t want to call a memoir, but it kind of would be called that, just getting my story out for my own sake… the story of me becoming a musician,” Hawkins explained.
Although best known for her songwriting and singing, Hawkins began her musical career as a drummer. In the late ’80s, she briefly joined Bryan Ferry’s (Roxy Music) band.
“I grew up loving Roxy Music … I met the drummer Andy Newmark at a Eurythmics concert at The Roxy. I was around 18 at the time. We spent some time hanging out, he liked my songs, my demo tape and he said ‘you should audition for Bryan Ferry.’”
Hawkins continued, “So I worked my butt off, I played marimba and vibraphones because I knew that he (Ferry) wanted a Conga player from Cuba. I learned every song that Roxy Music ever did on the marimba and the vibraphone.”
“I showed up at the audition in a dress, and Bryan Ferry said, ‘you look like Maggie Thatcher.’ I was just a young girl, but I guess that’s how I affected him. So I did the audition, and I got the gig.
I spent weeks rehearsing, and eventually, they said, it’s not really what we need. I didn’t mind, really, I didn’t feel like I fit into that band at that moment. I couldn’t fill the chair of a big Cuban percussionist. Right after I got fired, I wrote ‘Damn, I Wish I Was Your Lover.’ I realized that my destiny was not to be a drummer, but it was to be my own songwriter.”
While working as a coat check at a club, Hawkins met singer-songwriter Marc Cohn. “Cohn discovered me, and he left my demo tape at JSM (music publishing). He was just a jingle singer at the time.”
Her career began in 1992 just as the music business was changing. Corporate interests meant less artistic freedom and many artists were forced to fit into the ever-changing corporate mold.
“I did come in at the end of a really good time for women. We were allowed to be songwriters, artists, and kind of eccentric. I feel that it became really controlled and corporate. It wasn’t just about women having less of a reach and less individuality, it was about the corporations being so big and the opportunities being so limited. I feel like I never would have fought with Columbia Records the way I had to fight with Sony just to have a banjo in a song. I don’t think that would have been an issue for Columbia.”
Like many, Hawkins is hoping for things to get back to semi-normal soon.
We’re just calling clubs and asking when are you opening, and just booking gigs. I don’t know when things are going to open fully. It’s important for my soul to keep pushing myself.”
Hawkins continues her creative work and expects to be playing well beyond Covid times. “I just wrote a new song, I’m always writing and recording in my house and looking forward to new music coming out. I’m used to being patient. People that want to hear my new music should come to the show, of course, I’ll play all my hits as well.”
Sophie B. Hawkins will appear Saturday May 21 at the Greenwich Odeum in East Greenwich. Tickets to the in-person show are available here. The full concert will be streamed the next day (May 22 at 8PM) online where you can watch from the comfort of your own home.